Kunal Vora – Founder, ABND sheds light on the qualities agencies should look for while hiring a Graphic designer.
Design is intelligence made visible. When a product, communication, space or experience works for you effectively, it is because a designer behind the scenes made sure it was created keeping you in mind. While it is important for a designer to find an agency that gives them the opportunities to learn, explore and grow, it is equally important for agencies to find Graphic designers who understand their methodology and relate to the kind of clients they work with. So, what does one keep in mind before hiring a Graphic designer?
Hiring the right Graphic designer or finding the right Agency to work for is not an easy process. To make the process easier, I have narrowed down the 7 key traits that I look for while hiring Graphic designers.
Don’t judge a book by its cover
A designer’s portfolio is their life, it speaks volumes about their experience, capabilities, and quality of work. A few years back, you would find only a handful of good portfolios after going through hundreds. However, these days it’s the other way around. Thanks to all the resources available online, anyone and everyone can put together an impressive portfolio.
I feel a designer’s true capability lies in how they identify a problem and how they map their journey to create the final piece. Instead of asking for a portfolio, I ask to see their process notes, rough sketches and try to understand how they arrived at the solution.
Takeaway – evaluate basis their thought process and methodology, not necessarily the finished product.
Education or Knowledge?
Don’t get fooled by education. A great education does not always translate to great designers. Some of the best designers I’ve worked with have no or minimal graphic design education. In fact, because they have no formal training, they are able to break away from conventional design formulas and create beautiful work. Don’t get me wrong, education is important and a must, but that label of the reputable institution does not always work. What works is the ability of an individual to think beyond the scope, their ability to be open to learning every day and reinvent themselves with every project.
Takeaway – find those with a strong design foundation but look beyond formulae
Designers or Artists?
The difference between art and design is purpose. Design is not a pretty picture but rather a solution. Brands are moving beyond positioning and strive to serve a purpose as a means to connect and communicate with their audience. Hence, a good design identifies the problem, finds the best way to solve it and serves its purpose. Any product, brand or communication that has worked effectively is because the designer was truly able to understand and practice this mantra.
Designers who are obsessed with their own work or lack the confidence to defend their work don’t understand the purpose. Look for Designers who are open to criticism, who are able to visualize from the consumers’ perspective and at the same time are able to defend their work with rational logic and research.
Takeaway – hire designers who have a solution-oriented approach.
Graphic designer, Product Designer, Interior Designer, Communication Designer, Industrial Designer, etc. are labels that education gives you. A good designer is someone who attempts to break away from these labels and is able to visualize across all spectrum – two dimensional or three dimensional, digital or print or experiential.
Takeaway – hire a fearless explorer
Every year we see new design and communication trends, while these trends might be great for short-term communication and designs, they are a trap when it comes to creating brand identities. Trends are short-lived whereas brands are supposed to be timeless. It is important to have designers who are not easily carried away by design trends, understand the difference between fad and fashion and are able to assess how to use a particular trend.
Takeaway – while assessing their work, ask yourself if it would stay relevant 5 or 10 years down the road
Human first, Designer second
I guess this holds true for most jobs and possibly the most difficult to detect while hiring. As mentioned earlier, the design has to serve a purpose and this comes with an in-depth understanding of the consumers. It requires sensitivity and empathy, the ability to visualize oneself in the consumers’ shoes, their socioeconomic standing, their culture, and aspirations.
A designer who has truly understood the user will always produce the most effective solutions. While not an accurate method, it is always good to know what a Designer does beyond their 9 to 5 job.
Takeaway – passion for a cause equals to higher empathy
Experience vs Adaptability
Experience is always good, but experience without diversity can be an issue. We come across a lot of brilliant designers with years of experience, however, their work lacks diversity. They often start with a lot of energy but over the years have typecasted themselves to churn out work that all looks the same.
Takeaway – Look for Experienced Designers who are constantly evolving with changing times
This article piece is authored by Kunal Vora – Founder ABND